A FAMILY has been plunged into mourning after their three-year-old son died in a horrific farm accident.
The youngster, Eric Whelan, was hit by a reversing tractor at the family farm in Raheen, a mile north of Baltinglass in Co Wicklow. His shattered parents Brian and Catherine were being comforted today by family members and friends.
The tragedy occurred at around 11am yesterday. Frantic efforts by the emergency services to revive the boy were in vain.
Eric was brought to Naas General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
His parents were said to be "distraught" at the sudden death of their son, with a family spokesman saying they were "too upset to talk".
Eric was hit as he played on the farm. It is understood the driver of the tractor did not spot the youngster as he was reversing the vehicle.
The Health and Safety Authority and the gardai are carrying out separate investigations into the death.
Gardai say it was still unclear how the accident had happened but it appeared the tractor was reversing at the time.
A local man, who knows the family, said the Whelans were highly regarded and respected in the community.
Eric's death was the second death of a toddler in an accident in just four days.
On Tuesday, Patrick McDonagh, also aged three, was killed when he was struck by a bin lorry as he chased a football outside his house in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.